I’m not sure if I’m writing this to share my tarte tatin or to show off that I have an apple tree in my garden… I think probably the latter. I’ve recently moved house and my new place has a big old apple tree which is fuiting apples of some unknown eating variety. This summers wet weather (classic British summertime) has been pretty disastrous for fruit harvests with many crops coming late in the season and often with big blemishes all over the skin. Fortunately for me, this means that my tree is covered in delicious apples waiting to be eaten. The only problem is that the tree is pretty big, I’m not 20 feet tall (shock horror) and I don’t have a ladder… Picture the scene: It’s a quiet Saturday morning and my housemate is awoken by me violently shaking said tree and attempting to bash apples off it with a big stick in one hand and my camera in the other, all the while cursing my lack of success. It was pretty ridiculous but twenty minutes later I was rewarded with a bowlful of apples and freezing cold hands. Sunday was shaping up nicely.
Before I started make this I did a bit of reading and it seems Tarte Tatin can be made with either shortcrust or puff pastry. I plumped for shortcrust (no real reason why – I think puff would work just as well if not better) and it being the weekend, made my own which was really easy. The thing with pastry though, and I’m about to expose myself as a massive fake, is that shop bought pastry is pretty much the same price and doesn’t taste any different. There are of course exceptions – my dad makes the most incredible pear tart with almond pastry – but for simple shortcrust I think I’d rather save myself the mess and more importantly the knowledge of just how much butter I’m consuming by buying it pre-made from the supermarket. Roll on the easy life – pastry pun intended.
My next confession (because Sunday is all about confession right?) is that when I made the caramel I made a rather large mistake… In my haste, when I glanced at the recipe I misread it and didn’t add the small amount of butter that I was meant to, but instead jumped in with the rather large amount that was destined for the pastry… Mmmmm buttery caramel! After I realised what I’d done I was pretty worried that it would taste awful but it was great. Fat, sugar, and a pinch of salt – everything bad for you combined it was going to always taste amazing. That said, I suggest a slightly reduced amount of butter below, mostly to save your arteries clogging up instantly…
I’ve never been more pleased with my garden. Fruit puddings have never been more unhealthy, nor more delicious. Enjoy.
7 medium apples (something sharp but flavoursome – like the ones on my tree)
200g white sugar
220g plain flour
2 heaped table spoons of caster sugar
120g cold butter
1 large egg, beaten
1. Peel, halve and core the apples and put in the fridge, uncovered for a few hours.
2. Put the sugar into a 20cm heavy-based ovenproof frying pan (which will fit all of your apples arranged face down in it) along with a small amount of water and stir until combined. Once you’ve got a thick gloopy liquid, cook this over a high heat until dark golden. Don’t stir the mixture as it heats up, but instead tilt the pan from side to side to mix it. You’ll need to keep an eye on this to make sure it doesn’t burn and you may need to turn the heat down.
3. Once you’re happy with the colour, take it off the heat, and stir in 80g of butter (NOT 120g as I went for!), and a generous few pinches of salt. Stir until it’s thoroughly mixed and then put the apples into the pan, round side down making sure that there aren’t any gaps if possible. Put it back on the hob and cook for a further 10 minutes, flipping the apples twice so that they are totally coated in the caramel with the round side facing down. Once cooked let the mixture cool down in the pan.
4. Make the pastry. Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the sugar, salt, and small chunks of the butter – grating it saves lots of time – and rub the mixture together with your finger tips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Beat the egg and add it to the mix, and keep mixing until you get a smooth non-sticky ball of dough, slowly adding tiny amounts of cold water as necessary.
5. Refrigerate the pastry in clingfilm for 20 minutes whilst preparing to roll it out, and then roll to half a centimetre thick. Cut a circle the same size as your pan (a tiny bit bigger is best), and then place this on top of the apples and caramel in the pan, pushing it around the edges of the pan.
6. Put the entire pan in a oven preheated to 200 C and cook for 30 minutes or so until the pastry is golden. Take it out, give it a few minutes to cool, and then very carefully turn the tart out onto a plate larger than the pan. Serve with ice cream for the most unhealthy way to get one of your 5 a day ever.
(informed by the Guardian’s word of mouth blog)